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Photography Business Tips Blog – Feedback Wanted!

Thank you everyone for being patient with me. I had intended to take one week off from video blogging in order to provide some time for reflection and planning to determine the direction of the blog from here on out. That one week turned into almost two, as a health issue I have recently been dealing with took over most of my time and energy the last two weeks. So… I apologize for being gone so long.

My blog’s new direction is still coming together, as much of my energy is still being directed toward resolving the migraines that have crept into my life the last three months. The problem isn’t that I can’t figure out what to do or how to do it… but that I have so many ideas, I am running into difficulty deciding which ones to do, and what to do first. (The fact that my head is constantly pounding isn’t making the decision-making process any easier). I even tried to create an update video yesterday, but the lights were so bright that I couldn’t concentrate well enough to put two sentences together.

Don’t worry… the blog is not going away. I will be back recording more videos as soon as I am able. And, in the meantime, I will write until I can stand the bright lights without  getting that piercing icepick feeling where I feel like I’m going to pass out.

A couple of decisions have been made. The first is that I will be doing less video blogging. It has come to my attention that daily posts are not the best way to provide value for you. So I will be doing only one or two videos per week instead of 5. This change should make it easier for you to tune in to each one of them, and not have you feeling guilty if you simply don’t have the time to watch 5 videos every week. We are all overloaded with information these days, and I don’t want to be part of the problem… I want to be part of the solution.

Secondly… I am going to continue to do some photography and business tips, but I am going to change things up a bit. Every other week there will be a tip. And on the following week I am considering creating a sort of reality show of my own businesses. What does that mean?… you ask. Well… I have studied many many people in both business and photography for more than 25 years now, in hopes of gleaning the information that could help me to excel in my own life and business. I have learned a ton of information from the books, classes, online courses and interactions I have had with these successful men and women. And… I realized that I don’t really read blogs very much myself… especially photography blogs. They pretty much bore me. Why? Because most of the ones I have seen either post “Rah Rah… look at how great I am” or offer information that is so technical that it would put an engineer to sleep.

So, I spent some time thinking about what I would want to read or watch on a blog about photography and business. I asked some coaching clients, and I talked to some friends. What I decided was that I would want to know what it’s really like for successful photographers to run their businesses. I know what they tell me it is like in their classes, but I would want to know how they really work with real clients and how they really do their marketing on a daily basis. I would want to know what they are thinking about the industry and where it’s heading. Now… maybe the reason I don’t see blogs like this is that it’s not good for business to be so completely transparent. Maybe it’s totally freaking SCARY to bare it all in such a public way. Actually, just thinking about doing this is kind of freaking me out. Maybe it’s just too much to expect that blogs tell us the truth… not just about the successes, but also about the failures. But, that is what I would want to see, and that’s what I am looking to create. I am going to tell you what we struggle with, and I am going to tell you what we are doing right now in our business to overcome challenges. I am going to give you real numbers… real sessions… real sales averages… real actions for today. NOT the photography business tips that served us 15 years ago, the stuff that we are doing TODAY. And I am going to share with you the results of our efforts. I am going to seek out successful photographers to interview to get the “up to date skinny” on what is really working RIGHT NOW!

What I haven’t yet decided is how the format is going to work. Will it be a membership site, like an exclusive tv channel for my coaching clients and followers? Will I charge for it? Maybe I could do the Creative Live type model, where it’s free for a limited period of time and then goes into an archived system for members. I don’t know yet. I haven’t worked out the details. And, I don’t know how much time and effort is going to needed to be put into it to set this whole thing up. So, before I do set this whole crazy thing up… I have a favor to ask. Please tell me what you think of my idea. Would you rather that I just continue to give you isolated tips on photography and business, or would you like more detailed information? What do you think of following me around via video camera in my own business? Is that just ridiculous, or do you LOVE  IT? If you have been in the photography business for any length of time you already know that it takes about 10 times longer to implement something than originally planned, so I don’t want to create a whole new format if it isn’t going to serve you. I want the process to be fulfilling for me, and I want it to be valuable for you. So… Please, Please, Please give me your opinions. Even if you’ve never left a comment before… please do so. Even if you think it’s a terrible idea… heck… especially if you think it’s a terrible idea. Because if I’m going to risk falling flat on my face in front of everyone, then I want it to at least be worth it. 🙂

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Cha, cha, cha, Changes

Changes are coming to my photography and business tips blog. Exactly what that looks like is still being created, so I can’t tell you what is going to happen, but I can tell you why things will be changing.

Providing value is only possible when the provider understands what the providee wants and needs. With so many different photography business models and specialties, it has been a challenge to provide photography and business tips on a daily basis that will be relevant to everyone. For example… I can give you the tip to set up profitable pricing, but without knowing your level of experience, your comfort level with sales, your market, your financial goals, your Cost of goods, I cannot, in good conscience, offer you a detailed pricing model.

One of the most powerful things about having a coach is that they know you, your business and your goals, and that makes it really easy for the two participants… the photography business owner and the coach… to design a plan of attack that will create the biggest change in the shortest amount of time. Up until now, I have tried to provide pretty general photography and business tips without getting into much detail. My hope was that the tips would be valuable to most photographers who found my blog. But I am finding that sharing the “what to do” is less empowering than sharing the “how to do it”… which is what I provide as a coach. And… to do that I need to understand where each person is coming from.
So how do I do that on a large scale? That is the question that I am struggling to answer, and I would appreciate any feedback that you can give me while I look at how to improve my blog for the benefit of my subscribers. What type of programs appeal most to you? Do you prefer webinars, one on one phone calls, mastermind groups? Would you rather pay an hourly rate to get expert one on one assistance or would you like a small monthly fee to have access to a membership site that includes lots of programs to help with specific topics? What are your biggest struggles right now in your business? And what would it be worth to you on a monthly basis to solve those challenges? I want to know more about you guys and your businesses, so that I can find the best ways to help you succeed.

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My Story

There’s really very little value in listening to tips if you don’t trust that they will help you. So, today I am going to talk a little about my story, so that you can determine for yourself whether my experience will be useful for you in your photography business.

Having run portrait studios for other companies with significant success, I started my own event photography business in 1999. That was a tough time in the industry, as digital was just starting to take hold. Other photographers, long time pros in the industry were skeptical of digital, and many were vowing never to switch. The technology was extremely expensive and changing rapidly. I was forced to upgrade very expensive equipment on practically a yearly basis to keep up with the changes, and with hardly anyone else in the same field (delivering portraits onsite at events) I had to make my own way. The five years experience I had from managing studios for a national chain gave me a pretty good leg up, but Wow… was it ever hard without anyone to follow or network with! That business is now 15 years old, and going strong. And two years ago we added a portrait studio. This time there was tons of education and successful businesses to emulate. And that’s exactly what we did. Getting a business up and running successfully in two years is a lot better than 15. I have learned a ton along the way in the photography industry, and most of my lessons were painful. I don’t want you to have to struggle the way I did to figure things out. My tips are short, and they don’t have a lot of detail. If you follow them, you will find that you are probably going to need additional information to implement them. But that’s ok. The tips will help you avoid the land mines that you didn’t know were lurking below the surface, and with the basic concept in your mind, you will be able to go and get the education you need from the experts to fill in the gaps.
If you need help along the way, you can always make comments on my blog. And… if you need one on one coaching, I would love to be your coach. Just give me a call @ 512-997-7429.
Soon I will be offering some online training that goes into a lot more detail than I can cover in these short daily videos. If you have suggestions for classes you would like to see offered, please let me know.

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Photography Tip – Photographing Moving Objects

Today’s photography tip is on photographing moving objects. Do you ever get frustrated by the fact that every time you push the shutter, you have to wait for your camera to focus? Well… there is a button for that. Not all cameras have it, but if you do, it will save you time and make photographing moving objects, like race cars, rugby players and two year old toddlers, a lot easier. On my Nikon camera, it is labeled AF-ON. The first thing you need to do is put your camera in continuous focus mode. Then, while holding down the AF-ON button (or whatever it’s labeled on your camera) you will be ready to release the shutter… without the normal delay that usually allows your camera to focus.

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Photography Tips – Photographing faces for maximum attractiveness

Today’s photography tip is a lighting and posing tip on photographing faces. Everyone has a closed and an open side to their face. The easiest way to see this is to look for which eye is more open. The smaller eye is on the closed side. Then, after determining which side is closed, turn your subject so that side of their face is facing the main light and turn their face toward the camera so that side of their face is closer to the camera. The light will open up that side of their face and make the two sides seem more symmetrical. The more symmetrical your subject looks, the more attractive they will appear. Also, having the smaller eye toward the camera and the larger one farther away will have their smaller eye appear larger and tend to even out any difference in eye size.
When photographing multiple subjects, try to follow the same rules for each person, but if you can’t make it work for everyone, err on the side of the women. They tend to care more than the men do about how they look in their photographs, and they are often the one making the buying decision.

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Photography Business Tips – Free Daily Organizer

Today’s photography business tip is to find a tool that you can use to keep yourself organized on a daily basis. You not only need to be able to organize your day to day and short term goals, but you also need a way to keep yourself on track for long term goals. I created my own little system for keeping myself organized that saves me a bunch of time and helps me keep myself on track. It’s so easy to get distracted by things like email and Facebook, especially if you are already overwhelmed by too many tasks, but my little system really helps me stay focused on the important things I need to get done.
I have a treat for you today! Below is a link to download my FREE daily organizer. It will only be online until Saturday, so download it quick… and try it out. And… I would LOVE to get your feedback on how helpful it is for you. Please comment below after you have had a chance to try it out.

This link will only be available until Saturday May 24th, 2014, so don’t delay.

Click HERE to download

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Photography Tips – Understand Exposure and White Balance

To maintain consistency in your images for your photography business, it is critical that you understand proper exposure and white balance, and how to obtain them in your camera. In this photography tips video I show you a couple of tools that we use to get proper exposure and white balance. You don’t need to get these specific tools, although the X-Rite Color Checker and the target/reflector we use are great ones to choose, you do need to have a plan and a system for how you will consistently get good exposure and white balance in your images.

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Photography Business Tips – Consider the source when searching out photography education

Your photography business is unique. It’s not going to be exactly like anyone else’s. Even if you purchase a franchise, there is always going to be one hugely unique factor, and that’s YOU. I am constantly advocating education, and photography education, even for long-term pros, is a must. But it is also easy to become overwhelmed and confused when attending seminars and classes on photography. And that is because everybody’s business is different. Every photographer has a different brand, and different philosophies for running their photography business. So there is seemingly a lot of conflicting information out there.

What is really important is that you seek out the education that will be most relevant to your type of photography and your brand. The best tips you are going to get are those that you get from folks doing work similar to yours, with similar photography clients and a similar philosophy. In the past, we took classes from folks who photographed schools and events, because that was the type of photography we focused on. But now that we have a portrait studio, we need to learn from a different type of photographer. It’s not that either of our teachers was better than the other… they were just more relevant to us at the time.
Focus is so key, when running a photography business, so do what you can to focus your marketing to your ideal client, and your education to your ideal business model.

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Business Tip – Challenge yourself to reach a difficult goal

Today’s photography business tip is to challenge yourself to reach an important goal. Watch my video for details on how this can transform your photography business… and your life.

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Photography Tips – Use Light, Dark, Light, Dark in your photography to improve the depth in your images

Attending photography classes, conferences, conventions, and seminars is a great way to advance your skills in photography quickly. Last week, at The Texas School of Professional Photography, Charles and I were privileged to be able to attend William Branson’s class on classical painted portraiture. William’s work is strongly influenced by painters, and one of the great tips that he shared with us in class was about lighting for the subject and the background. If you want to improve the depth in your images, and make them look more like art, use the light, dark, light, dark technique. In this video I will show you how it works.

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